Billie and Robert Nicholson

January and February are the coldest months of the year. Homes can get really cold if power lines are downed for more than a few hours. Here are 7 ways to stay warm during an extended electrical power outage where no generator is available.19_Well-clothed_baby

  1. Conserve heat by bringing everyone into one room, preferably a small one. Add rugs to the floor, cover interior doorways with blankets and windows with shower curtains (lets daylight in to allow solar heating during the day.) Avoid opening and closing exterior doors. Go out thorough a porch or garage that can act like an air lock.
  2. Clothing – Dress in multiple layers to minimize body heat loss. Hats, gloves or mittens, and warm socks should be included. Several thin layers work better to hold body heat.
  3. Chimney – Hopefully that small room has access to a fireplace or wood-burning stove. Stoves are 70% more efficient than fireplaces (although a fire-back installed can help reflect heat) for severe weather because there are more surface areas from which the heat can radiate. Some propane heaters, or kerosene heaters, which are approved for indoor use, can also be used. Be sure to keep a carbon monoxide detector and a fire extinguisher handy. Opening a window just a bit for ventilation is a good practice to insure adequate oxygen levels.
  4. Calorie-dense food will provide the extra energy needed to keep warm. Eating stimulates the metabolism, too. Be sure to drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated. Warm drinks or soups held in cups also serve as hand warmers. Avoid alcohol. That “warm feeling” is not a metabolism booster and can do more harm than good.
  5. Cuddling is a great way to share body heat. Bring out the sleeping bags and set up your tent inside the house. The kids will love it and you’ll all stay warmer if you sleep inside it. Pets make great bed warmers, too.
  6. Chemical hand warmers can be used in gloves, pockets and shoes to keep extremities warm. Hands & feet are the first body parts to suffer from cold exposure.
  7. Your Car can be a refuge. Start it and run the heater to warm up. Only do this with the garage door open enough for ventilation. Hope you keep your gas tank more than half full. If you choose to leave your home, be sure to pack an emergency bag containing blankets, food and water along with tools and some kitty litter (to use to get your car unstuck). Drive with extreme caution.


Billie and Robert Nicholson welcome your questions or comments. Email them to: